Developed Areas Along the Parkway

North Carolina BRP Highlights Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway
Developed Areas

Doughton Park

Brinegar Cabin, Caudill Cabin, Wildcat Rocks,
Fodder Stack, Basin Creek, Bluff Mountain,
Alligator Back, Basin Cove


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Doughton Park, located between milepost 238 to 246, contains classic scenery with some of the most memorable photo opportunities anywhere along the Parkway.  This 6000 acre area was once called the Bluffs until 1961 when the name was changed in honor of Robert Doughton, a former member of the US House of Representatives.  He played a key role in the creation of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

This area allows backcountry camping at a designated primitive camping site off Grassy Gap Fire Rd Trail with a free permit.  For those looking for other lodging, there is Doughton Campground with 110 tent sites and 25 RV sites.  There is also the rustic Bluffs Lodge for those looking for accommodations with four walls.

Doughton Park also has a picnic area with 56 sites near the lodge.  This is near a popular section of the Bluff Mountain Trail as it winds over meadows and pastures to memorable views.  There is also a small camp store, coffee shop and restaurant available for visitors.  This is one of those sections of the Parkway that you may need more than just one day to explore all it has to offer.

There are more than 30 miles of hiking trails that meander through Doughton Park's pastures, meadows as well as along its streams. Visitors can stretch their legs on modest strolls or embark on more ambitious, day-long outings.  Most lead to spectacular views.  Many visitors stay close to the Parkway, this area is one you'll want to get out and explore a bit of the area.

Isolation was a way of life when the Brinegar family built their self-sufficient homestead here. They farmed the land from the 1880s until the 1930s, when the National Park Service acquired it for the Parkway. Today, the Brinegar cabin is a popular destination within the park.

Other families settled along Basin Creek and Cove Creek, although their numbers were never large. Martin Caudill's cabin, which is visible from several vantage points, was built in 1895 and is one of the few to survive a devastating flood in 1916.

The Bluff Mountain Trail offers many scenic vistas and traverses relatively level terrain. The trail runs near the Parkway and is easily accessible from many locations along its 7.5 mile route from Brinegar Cabin to Basin Cove Overlook.  This is the most popular of the Doughton Park hiking trails.

The Cedar Ridge Trail skirts the northern side of Doughton Park's "V-shaped" boundary. Beginning near Brinegar Cabin, the trail descends a forested ridgeline 4.4 miles to the Grassy Gap Fire Road. The elevation change is more than 2,000 feet, making this a beautiful but strenuous trip.

The Grassy Gap Fire Road is a 6.5 mile leaf-covered lane, wide enough for hikers or horseback riders to travel side by side. The trail starts at Milepost 243.9 and descends down the mountainside past the primitive campground to State Route 1730 (Longbottom Road). Horseback riders must enter and exit from Longbottom Road. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are prohibited.

The Basin Creek Trail is accessible only from the Grassy Gap Fire Road and winds past small cascading waterfalls for 3.3 miles to the century-old Caudill Cabin, former home of the Martin Caudill family. Part of the once-thriving Basin Cove community, this cabin was one of the few structures that withstood the devastating 1916 flood. This is the cabin that is viewable from Wildcat Rocks.  Allow plenty of time for the 3.3 mile return trip and for the additional hike along Grassy Gap Fire Road to Longbottom Road.  This is a long round trip hike of ten miles.  You may have the trail all to yourself.

The Bluff Ridge Primitive Trail is the shortest but steepest route into Basin Cove. The strenuous climb up the trail makes the hike seem much longer than 2.8 miles.  There is a trail shelter just to the east of the Bluff Mountain Trail junction.  The view at the shelter is wonderful.

The Flat Rock Ridge Trail begins on the mountain-top meadow at Basin Cove Overlook and ends on the damp, cool banks of Basin Cove Creek alongside the Grassy Gap Fire Road. The trial offers glimpses of rugged mountain slopes that attracted and challenged early settlers.

The Fodder Stack Trail is a moderate one mile hike that shows off its delicate display of wildflowers in spring and rewards hikers year-round with the varied hues and fragrances of mixed pine and hardwood forest.  There are benches and a few good views.  Most of the trail is easy to moderate, with a short steep section at the start. This hike is recommended for families, the trail represents a cross-section of Parkway environments.

Recommended hike - Drive to the end of the Doughton Park Picnic Area and hike the Bluff Mountain Trail to the spectacular views from Alligator Back.  Its a short 0.6 mile hike with a minimal elevation change.  Also check out the views from the shelter while your in the area to add 0.2 miles to your hike.

Many of these trails are featured in the hiking guide book Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway.  There are maps and pictures below of Doughton Park.  This was one of my favorites places to explore while traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Spend a couple days exploring this area.  Watch the sunset on Bluff Mountain and watch the sunrise from Wildcat Rocks Overlook!

Brinegar Cabin

Alligator Back

Bluff Mountain Trail near the Doughton Park picnic area


Developed Areas Along the Parkway

North Carolina BRP Highlights Blue Ridge Parkway

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